HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

April 23, 2007

Tuesday’s third period was real playoff hockey

By Jesse Menden

Well, we finally got to see some real playoff hockey.

Minnesota suffered through three disappointing losses to start their postseason against Anaheim, where the Wild showed less offensive ability than a team of elephants sporting roller skates on ice.

Tuesday night’s game 4 offered what fans had been waiting for from their playoff team. The Wild scored four goals, were aggressively forechecking and hitting the Ducks, and showed some attitude that was missing from the first three games.

Throw in the fisticuffs at the end of the game, and it was a real attention-grabbing affair.

After dozing on and off through 11 periods of playoff hockey (the 9:30 p.m. start times didn’t help), the Wild finally reminded us what it was like to be in the playoffs.

The Wild offense finally broke through in that final period Tuesday night. Marian Gaborik gave his team the 2-1 lead when he poked the puck by Ilya Bryzgalov early in the third.

Just minutes later, Brian Rolston scored on a centering pass from Pavol Demitra.

The Wild added one more goal on a nice deflection by Mark Parrish, and the rout was on with the score at 4-1.

Maybe scoring goals against the Ducks isn’t that hard after all.

After Parrish scored that goal, the Ducks’ Corey Perry took a run at Brent Burns as the Wild were celebrating the goal.

That resulted in another power play opportunity for the Wild. They seemingly took advantage by scoring a goal, but once again, the on-ice officials were doing their best to create controversy.

They disallowed the goal because they said Branko Radivojevic was in the crease.

Not only was Radivojevic not even in the crease or close enough to make contact with replacement goalie J.S. Giguere, the National Hockey League has not had that rule in years.

As fans chucked their white towels onto the ice in disgust, tempers were further escalating.

Anaheim began taking runs at Wild players, nailing Wes Walz and Veilleux into the boards.

The events really got intense with under two minutes to go in the game. A small fight between Adam Hall and Kent Huskins broke out. It was nothing out of the ordinary, they are of equal size and fighting ability.

But for some reason, the Ducks’ Shawn Thorton didn’t agree. He went after Hall and tag-teamed him for no apparent reason. It was an obvious violation of the hockey code.

While that was going on, one of the biggest (and least talented) enforcers in the league, Brad May, sucker-punched Kim Johnsson. The Wild defenseman is the last person on the team to fight, and was minding his own business when he was punched and fell to the ice. It was another violation of the code.

All of this went on with Boogaard on the bench (the not-so-mighty Ducks did not have the gumption to do all of that with the ‘Boogyman’ on the ice.)

When everything finally settled down on the ice, the greatest scene you will probably see this postseason took place.

Head coach Jacques Lemaire sent Boogaard out onto the ice for the ensuing faceoff. Before the puck was dropped, he skated around in circles on the ice as the 19,000 fans in attendance chanted his name like he was a great Roman gladiator.

The puzzling aspect of this sting of events was the Ducks were getting routed, but they were still up 3-1 in the series. What prompted the team that controlled play in the first three games to fly off of the edge?

It didn’t make much sense, but hey, we got to see some real playoff hockey.